Lok Sabha elections 2019-‘Among young voters of India, not a Modi wave, but a Tsunami’: Poonam Mahajan
The daughter of the late Pramod Mahajan, a BJP leader, is pitted against Congress candidate Priya Dutt (daughter of late Congress leader Sunil Dutt) in the upcoming poll on April 29.Updated: Apr 25, 2019 09:26 IST
Poonam Mahajan,38, president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) youth wing, and sitting Member of Parliament from Mumbai North-Central seat, spoke to Kumar Uttam. The daughter of the late Pramod Mahajan, a BJP leader, is pitted against Congress candidate Priya Dutt (daughter of late Congress leader Sunil Dutt) in the upcoming poll on April 29. Read edited excerpts:
Your government has faced a lot of criticism for its perceived failure to create jobs. What is the impact on young voters?
We were among the fragile five nations before 2014, and now we are the sixth largest economy in the world. The strength of the economy lies in the youth and their aspirations. And that is what we looked at. A skill development ministry was created for people who do not connect with paramparik (traditional) jobs. Just being [a] job seeker is not enough; we need to be [a] job creator [as well]. That is why we have a start-up policy. We are aiming for Rs 20,000 crore seed money for start-ups.[It will be collateral free, as per the party manifesto]... We have a situation where a youth living in a slum can take Mudra loan [to start a small business] even without talking to a bank manager. The number of ESIC [Employees’ State Insurance Corporation] subscribers has increased by 1.8 crore in the past 1.5 years.
Will young Opposition leaders like Akhilesh Yadav (Samajwadi Party chief) and Tejashwi Yadav (of Rashtriya Janata Dal) have an impact on your youth outreach?
All yuvraj (princes) have come together to save their raj [dynasty] and their princely states. Does the leadership want to serve it own interest, or it is like Prime Minister Modi, who is making people the beneficiaries of his schemes? This is an important factor that needs to be looked at.
The BJP is also under the scanner for the treatment of Muslims and Dalits.
Parties always treated them [minorities] as a vote bank. Why does Modi talk about Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas [collective effort, inclusive development]? This [trend of] differential treatment should stop... I am a youth, and can tell you that the aspiration of the younger generation is not divided along caste or religious lines.
Why did BJP bring up the Balakot air strike in its campaigns?
Being a nationalist is not a crime. In fact, it is the Congress manifesto which says “being an-anti national is not a crime”. If you say “Bharat ke tukde honge hazar (India would be divided into a thousand pieces) there won’t be a case against you... I call it a mockery of the democracy. We are talking about our achievements; 22 crore people have become beneficiaries of different schemes of the government of India. Using surgical strike or air strike (for poll benefits) is not our agenda. We have to give our full respect to army.
Is the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance a marriage of convenience?
At least there is a marriage... It is not like Mahagathbandhan [grand alliance of opposition parties], which is a relationship of convenience. We [BJP and Sena] have been together for more than 25 years...When you are in an alliance for so long, things are bound to happen.
There were several farmers’ protests in Maharashtra in recent months. Will that benefit the Opposition electorally?
The crisis in Maharashtra is because of the 15 years of the misrule of the previous [Congress-Nationalist Congress Party] government. The issues which we saw in northern Maharashtra were related to land of tribal farmers. The CM [Devendra Fadnavis] has assured a solution. It will take time to clear up the mess created in 15 years. The BJP has been ahead of its rivals in all corporation, zilla panchayat, gram panchayat, and nagar palika elections since 2014. Farmers, women and youth are voting for us.
How do you compare 2014 with 2019?
There are about 10-15% young voters in every seat — they believe in the decisive leadership of Narendra Modi. People say there was a Modi wave in 2014. It’s a tsunami this time, which will destroy all Opposition.